Hogs Breath Cafe

Regular readers will recall a rather disappointing experience I had last month when ordering steak dinner. That episode has now inspired me to seek out and find the best steak dinner in Darwin. If we believe the old adage “quality costs no more”, then I should also be on the hunt for the best value steak dinner. The obvious place to start, and one that aims to set the standard for steak dinners, was Hogs Breath Cafe. With that in mind, I visited the Palmerston restaurant, co-located with Quest Apartments in the CBD area, to start my hunt.

Our request on the evening for an impromptu seating for two was quickly and politely fulfilled. We were seated against the front windows and a drinks order then taken. One thing I appreciate about Hogs Breath is that nothing ever seems too difficult. For those unfamiliar with Hogs Breath, the restaurant decor is generally an eclectic mix of all things blokey bric-a-brac; vintage memorabilia, street signs, and other motorsport paraphernalia provide a den-like atmosphere, if not garage like. Operationally, there is a prominent American diner feel about the place – an experience attested to as our bubbly server-for-the-evening introduced herself to us, talked us through the menu and returned to take our order.

I’m glad the staff take the time to talk the diners through the menus, as I can never quite get the hang of reading them. Is it the lurid pink curly writing? Is it bits and pieces of information written randomly over the page, or the extremely busy background graphics, that does my eyes in, I can never tell. However, on this occasion I ordered a 300g rib fillet steak cooked rare, seasonal vegetables, baked potato, and sauce Dianne served on the side.

It was only while waiting and taking in the scenery did I notice the specials board for the night – written right above my head. Dang! If only the server had pointed those out to us…. what a shame. The specials certainly promised some very tasty meals and excellent value. Next time….

After only a short wait our meals arrived at our table simultaneously. It was then I knew I was in for a treat. The smokey aroma given off by the searing of the steak was heavenly. The charred criss-crossed hatching of the grill looked spectacular, as did the baked potato, split and topped with sour cream. A good sized serving of vegetables completed the meal. It appears that corn, broccoli and carrots must be in season at the moment.

The steak was simply delicious. Just a little weep of juices across the plate, and perhaps a little more bleu than rare, but that is really just being picky. The steak was a deep red inside the perfectly seared outer faces, seasoned well, and quite flavoursome. Now, there always see,es to be one corner of rib/scotch fillet that resembles a tangle of fat and gristle, and unfortunately this hadn’t been trimmed, nor had the edges been rendered. I find that with a bleu steak the larger regions of fat are far more irksome than normal if not paid attention to. However, I must say that I really enjoyed the steak and the accompanying sauce. Rich, silky, earthy and garlicky, and with a hint of – what was it? whisky? brandy? Regardless, the sauce was perfectly balanced.

The vegetables were presented well, colourful and still had a good amount of bite in them. And again, the had been seasoned well. All up, a well executed meal that will guarantee to please.

I have to say here that the friendly service and routine engagement by the staff throughout the evening, in their quirky Hogs Breath manner, certainly enhances the dining experience.

But does this meal set the standard? I have traditionally struggled with the pricing of Hog Breath steak dinners, especially when there is some good pricing for home cuts of meats in local butchers lately. However, in comparison with what other restaurants that seem comfortable by charging a lot more for steak dinners, a Hogs Breath meal such as this represents quite reasonable value for money.

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